Customers and workers at most Target stores no longer have to wear masks.
The Minnesota-based retailer updated its policies on Feb. 21, saying masks won't be required as long as local regulations don't force stores to require them.
"The health and safety of our guests and team members have been Target’s top priority throughout the pandemic. As COVID-19 cases continue to decline across the country, Target will not require our U.S. team members or guests to wear masks, as local regulations allow," Target said in a statement.
"We’ll follow all state and local COVID-19 safety regulations and encourage our team members and guests to consult the latest public health guidance, get vaccinated and make decisions to keep themselves and their families safe," it added.
Target has 1,926 stores in the United States and employs approximately 350,000 workers.
It wasn't clear how many stores will still require masks due to local restrictions.
The retailer in August 2021 imposed the masking requirements in all counties designated high risk for COVID-19 transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some 82 percent of the country falls under that designation as of Feb. 25.
Target will keep other safety and cleaning measures in place, including disinfecting, a company spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an email.
"We’ll also continue to provide our team with resources and benefits they need, including free medical-grade masks, COVID-19 tests, paid leave for team members with positive COVID-19 cases, and paid time and free Lyft rides to reduce barriers for team members to get their vaccines. Finally, we’ll continue to monitor trends in COVID-19 cases, public health data and guidance from public health experts moving forward. As the external environment changes, we will reevaluate and evolve our COVID-19 response for our team, operations and guests as needed," the spokesperson said.
Other large retailers have eased mask mandates in recent weeks as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations plunge across the country.
Walmart and Sam's Club workers were told in mid-February that they can stop wearing masks, provided they're fully vaccinated and work in a store that is not located in a jurisdiction that requires masking. Workers who are employed in "clinical care settings," such as pharmacies, are also still forced to don face coverings.
Vaccinated workers can continue to wear masks, Walmart said in a memo. "We support and respect an individual’s choice to continue wearing one," company officials said. Customers are not required to wear masks.
Amazon also said recently that masks would no longer be required for fully vaccinated employees, provided local regulations don't force masking indoors.
Fully vaccinated means a person has received two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab.
The masking guidance update came due to a “sharp decline in COVID-19 cases across the country over the past weeks along with increasing vaccination rates across the country," an Amazon spokesperson told The Epoch Times, adding, "This is a positive sign we can return to the path to normal operations."
A slew of the states and counties that still forced people to mask in various settings have also totally withdrawn or partially withdrawn their masking mandates, citing the drop in COVID-19 metrics.